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Wednesday, 9 May 1984
Page: 1813


Senator ARCHER(12.27) —Naturally, I would like to take up one of the give-away comments that Senator Evans is so good at--


Senator Gareth Evans —Senator Jack Evans. I am no good at those at all.


Senator ARCHER —Yes, I meant Senator Jack Evans. I give Senator Gareth Evans much more credit; he does his so much better. The throw-away line of Senator Jack Evans implied that comments made by me or certain other speakers in this debate were to the effect that the policy holder in the insurance business is of no concern. I would like him to come outside and tell me when we said that. The Opposition certainly does not condone the protection of crooks, which is obviously what Senator Jack Evans has in mind. I ask him to comment on the points that I raised a few moments ago, if he feels so inclined to make such comments through the Chair. Fraud is committed with a view to profit. When fraud is committed it is intended to cheat somebody at someone else's expense. Fraud is a matter of intention, not a matter of inadvertence. As far as I am concerned , insurance fraud is now one of the three biggest crimes in Australia. If we condone it and write into legislation that a little fraud is all right, fraud may well rise in the scale and be the largest crime in Australia.

There is no way that the Opposition or I will condone fraud. We will not engage in an insurance debate which supports crooks of any sort. At this stage we will not condone legislation which would be a forerunner of the writing of fraud legislation of this sort into other areas of business. I see no reason why we should accept the argument that arbitration is the correct way to solve the problem. I do not see that we will get any further up the track by committing such cases to arbitration. In matters such as this, at what stage does the arbitrator say: 'That is only innocent fraud', or 'it is compatible fraud', or ' it is criminal fraud'. I cannot see that we are in the position to differentiate when fraud is a deliberate act. It is as deliberate as arson. If Senator Jack Evans is prepared to explain how he can go about saying: 'Fraud is okay, providing it is done only on Sundays', or whatever, if he can explain when the deliberate act of fraud can be condoned, I would be very much obliged.